January is one of my favorite months. I know I’m in the minority here, but it really is. It’s a time to look inward. Our calendar is already full, but it doesn’t feel as hectic as December. I don’t have as many external obligations. January provides balance to the excitement of the holidays. The whole month feels like sleeping in on a Sunday morning, at least in comparison to the frantic energy of December. I can make space to slow down. Connecting with friends — really connecting — is easier in January than in the hustle and bustle of October through December. And, some people, like me, are kind enough to keep our Christmas lights up for people to enjoy just a little longer.
It can be easy to carry over all of that frantic energy from the holidays and apply it to our resolutions, to our to-do lists, to our vacation plans. I started seeing planners advertised for sale in October. Year in Review advice in December. I was (literally) knee deep in Amazon boxes and Christmas Cards, and yet every time I opened social media, it felt like I was already behind. Ads and social media statuses implying it was time to review 2018. What did I learn last year? What was I going to change in 2019? What were my goals? Here’s a discount on a diet and exercise program. Here’s a planner to get those resolutions on track. The messaging intensified in the week between Christmas and New Year. Here’s your diet! Here’s your detox! New changes! New goals! Change now!
Maybe I’m just slow, but I need time to process. I cannot review and summarize 2018 in a few minutes. Nor can I plan 2019 in an hour.
I mull it over. It happens in fits and starts.
It’s easy to forget that we don’t have to schedule it all now. We don’t have to change anything or start a new routine beginning on January 1. The whole year doesn’t have to be planned out by January 2nd.
I love the idea of pausing, reflecting, reevaluating, and moving forward. But I don’t like the pressure of a deadline.
I love the winter solstice and shorter days that help me look inward rather than out. I love setting new goals, looking at a blank calendar for the year and imagining all of the ways I’m going to fill it, with new dreams and milestones in work and play, with vacations and day trips. But all of the resolutions and plans that I’ve made that were successful started small and started slowly. I let myself take the time to imagine them. To plan the small steps that would take me toward the big lifestyle changes.
I need to dream about my year, to let those fantasies rattle around in my head. I need to wrestle with whether I am dreaming too big, or not enough, and then, only then, to decide whether to start moving forward.
I have to sit with my dreams for a while to learn if they’re really in line with the values I hold for my family and me. I try to focus on how I want to feel. I have to sit with my plans long enough to re-imagine and tweak them along the way.
Some might accuse me of not knowing what I want, but I don’t think that’s the case. I enjoy taking my time to figure out what matters most to me, how that looks, and then moving forward. Rather than looking at the shiniest ad to decide what will fulfill me in 2019, I need to look inward.
Whether you’re a do it right now, start from the first of the year kind of a person, or someone, like me, who takes a few days, or weeks, to decide where your dreams are going to take you in 2019, remember that you can begin again at any point on the calendar. You can change your mind. You can dream a different dream. You can make a new resolution every month, or plan for 90 days at a time. If you decide that the resolution you made on December 31 isn’t serving you, then change it. Find one that does, even if that means you start working on it at 1 pm on May 7, 2019, rather than midnight on January 1.
Wishing you a few moments of clarity amidst the chaos,
What are your daydreams for 2019? I’d love to know! Please drop me a line or connect on social media! And if you would like a few tips on keeping the promises you make to yourself, check out this post and this one!